Ren-sama's Note:

Belated Happy New Year to everyone! Once again, I thank you all for your continuous support and comments! OTL

I hope that you continue to enjoy and also support this fict.

I want to tell you that if anyone ever wonder why I keep on using 'teen' to refer to Ichigo even though he was already a twenty-five year old man, it's because of the fact that he still looks like a teen in this fict (he looks like he's in his eighteen.) And besides, using teen to refer to Ichigo is a lot easier. ˆoˆ


Chapter 10

"C-Chichi..?" The voice didn't sound or feel like it came from him. It sounded so far away and so eerie to be his. Not far from him, an anguished pitiful shriek broke the night's silence and he knew who the voice belonged to.

He knew it but he didn't care who it was anymore. He didn't care what it was that made her cry in agony like that. All he cared about was the figure in front of him, the one pinned on the wall, with blood oozing from his body and down from the wall to the ground.

He felt like he was suffocating. "Chi…" He couldn't move. Juushirou was alive just earlier. Why was he pinned on the wall as a bloodied corpse now? Why was he lifeless and cold now? And he knew, there was no one who would ruffle his hair anymore, no one to call him son, no one to share hundred year old stories to him… No one to call chichi… No one to treat as family… No one to look at him warmly, even if he did something mischievous… No one to love him as much as Juushirou did… "Chichi…"

He wanted to cry. He wanted so much to cry his heart out until he dies… But there was no shoulder to lean on anymore, no more comforting words and warm, gentle hands to make him feel safe. Juushirou was gone… His guardian, his beloved father was gone…

And he was still in that position when he felt the attack coming from his left. He dodged just in time and everything returned to normal. He could hear the other Shinigamis' presences now; he could hear the sobs, the mumbles, and the shriek that came from the woman who had just attacked him.

"It's you, isn't it!?" Momo was crying but her expression was twisted into fury. "You killed Aizen-taichou!" And she attacked him again. "Hajike, Tobiume!" And fire erupted from her zanpakutou, about to burst Ichigo's whole body with it when Toshirou stepped in the way and blocked the fire with his zanpakutou. Rangiku and Renji immediately subdued her and Ichigo watched as she tried to struggle against them. Toshirou immediately gave the order that she be imprisoned for a while for attacking someone.

"My condolence, Kurosaki." His expression was his usual scowl but his eyes held the deep sadness and pain for the loss of Juushirou. "And also, I apologize for Hinamori-fukutaichou's behavior." He bowed a little before he moved away.

Renji went to Ichigo's side the moment Momo had been taken away. "Ichigo, Aizen-taichou was on the other side of this wall. Your reiatsu was still all over the place because you fought with him here earlier. No one could sense anyone else's reiatsu beyond the vicinity except yours, Aizen-taichou's, and Ukitake-taichou's."

Ichigo heard it. He knew that he was going to be arrested until he was proven innocent. But he had no mind nor will to argue. Let them do what they want.

Renji shook him when he didn't answer, and when he still didn't answer, the redhead shook him harder, his nails digging onto Ichigo's arms painfully. "Listen, Ichigo. From the looks of things, it will seem like you killed Aizen-taichou and Ukitake-taichou tonight. Don't you understand!? You will be executed too!"

"I will never… hurt chichi…" He answered, feeling that his hoarse voice still sounded so far away. His mind still couldn't comprehend what was happening and his body was still too shock to move.

"I know. I know… and I also feel bad about what happened to Ukitake-taichou…" Renji answered, still shaking Ichigo lightly. "But Ichigo, if you don't go now, they will arrest you. It's not a matter of not trying to escape to prove that you're innocent, Ichigo. Everyone will think that you did it and will not even doubt the evidence pointing the crime to you." Renji felt like breaking up as well. First Rukia, then Ichigo too. And his friend had just experienced death once more.

And before they knew it, the Kidou Corps had already arrived and bound Ichigo using a Bakudo.

"Ichigo Ukitake, you are by now arrested for taking the life of two Taichous just because they knew of your dark secret." One of them said and Ichigo looked at him with dead expression. He didn't know what they were talking about. "Aizen-taichou left a message on his office table, telling us that you are, in fact, not a Shinigami but a Vizard, a creature with both Shinigami and Hollow powers. The letter says that he will try to confront you about it tonight, and that if he didn't come back, the only one who could've murdered him was you. The evidence clearly says that Aizen-taichou tried to confront you about it earlier but you lashed out at him and killed him. Your father, Juushirou Ukitake-taichou came here and probably saw what you did to Aizen-taichou. And you killed him as well."

Renji couldn't believe what he just heard. Ichigo was a Vizard? But that's impossible… He looked at Ichigo's dead expression and saw that somewhere deep inside the other teen's eyes, Ichigo was shocked. But that didn't mean that it was already Ichigo who did everything! But Aizen-taichou's letter was clearly hard evidence…

"So he knew I am a Vizard." Ichigo voiced quietly. "I did not kill Aizen though. And I would never even think of laying a finger on Chichi."

"Your lies will get you nowhere, Vizard." Another one of them said. "You better get ready for the execution that is about to come unto you." And without any other word, he was already taken away. The orange-haired teen was still shaken by the death of his father that he didn't even struggle. Renji couldn't do anything but watch. He knew that Ichigo wouldn't do such a thing, but it was no use. Hell, he didn't even realize that Ichigo was not pure Shinigami.

"Are you thinking it's no use, Pineapple?" Yachiru chirped from behind him and when he turned around, looking all hopeless, he saw that Kenpachi was grinning. Beside him were Yumichika and Ikkaku, also grinning. 11th Division Squad members grinning together were never a good sign.

Ichigo felt so helpless and distraught. Juushirou looked so horrible, pinned to the wall like that, and by his own zanpakutou Sougyo no Kotowari no less. The image wouldn't go away and Ichigo felt like he wanted to hit his head on the wall just to erase his memory of it. His hands were bound and he couldn't feel his reiatsu at all. All he knew was the fact that he was about to be executed too because he killed not just one but two Taichous, or so everybody thought. Not to mention that now, everyone would know who he truly was. It's either they would vanish him from Soul Society, or they would execute him.

'King, we have to leave this place.' Shiro voiced inside his head. 'You had to have the will to at least survive, if you want to avenge your chichi's death.' Ichigo's attention perked up at that. And Shiro used that opportunity to make Ichigo choose life. 'Your chichi was killed. What do you think will happen if you are killed too? Juushirou will be upset, not to mention that his killer will probably be having a party tomorrow. Do you want that? Do you want that killer to just roam around Seireitei, free and unpunished? You have to hide for now, at least until you clear your name.'

Ichigo's lifeless eyes gleamed a little at the prospect of having a goal – at the prospect of wanting to take revenge. And he was about to answer Shiro when the wall behind him exploded. He turned around and his eyes widened when he came face to face to a grinning Kenpachi and a beaming Yachiru on the Captain's shoulder. Kenpachi immediately manhandled him and tossed him over muscled shoulder before he even realized what's happening.

Kenpachi shunpo'd swiftly towards the Senkai gate that they readied and threw Ichigo in it unceremoniously followed by a Hell Butterfly. They shoved Zangetsu to him as well.

"You better escape for now, Ichigo. This Senkai Gate is connected to the town Rukia Kuchiki scouted." Kenpachi said as Ichigo stood up, dusting himself, and placed Zangetsu on his back. "I don't want my favorite sparring buddy dying in front of me for a crime he didn't commit, you know." His grin widened. "And no matter what you are, you are still my favorite sparring buddy."

Ichigo looked at him with wide eyes, and then the others. Renji looked shaken but the pain in his eyes were real. He voiced his sentiment next. "We will clean your name, Ichigo. And when we did, I'll be the first one to take you back. But for now, you better go to the Human world and hide. And don't go flaunting your reiatsu because people from Seireitei might come for you. You better tell me your real identity the next time we meet. See you next time then."

"We offer our condolences to Ukitake-taichou's death, Kurosaki." Yumichika voiced solemnly. "But don't you dare try to kill yourself after our attempt to save your life, you understand!?" He crossed his arms over his chest as he let out a huff.

Ikkaku looked at him with utter seriousness. "We'll also do some investigation about Ukitake-taichou's death, though it's not the Eleventh Squad's forte. So you keep your end of the deal and live."

"We'll see each other again, Ichi!" Yahicru chirped, though she had a mature smile for once.

He looked at them for a while, touched at their apparent kindness, before he bowed. "Thank you, everyone, for believing in me. And not judging me for who I am." He then looked up and his eyes were almost ablaze. "I will definitely live and come back here once more. And when I did, I'll make sure to avenge chichi." They all nodded before the gate closed.

It was dark and he walked aimlessly, only following the Hell Butterfly for direction. He walked for some minutes and he thought that he was going nowhere, already losing hope of ever coming out of the dark precipice, when a light, which looked like a door, appeared from a distance. The Hell Butterfly came out through the door and he immediately followed suit.

He almost lost his balance when he realized that he was at least a hundred meter up in the air, overlooking the small town called Karakura. He felt the cold night breeze on his face and the Senkai Gate closed from behind him. The moon hung at the sky, giving his figure an eerie light. He stayed in midair for a while, lost as to what he should do. And then he realized something. He didn't know this town. It's like everything was new to him, the houses, the infrastructures, the tall buildings, the roads. It's like he hadn't been here before. He had no memory of this town, not even the house he used to live in. Though he knew that he lived here because of the nostalgia that gripped his heart the moment his gaze brushed through everything.

His black Shihakusho, the one that he wore only when training with Kenpachi and Renji, fluttered together with the sway of the wind as he descended down the road. His feet touched the concrete cement silently and he looked around. He was in front of abandoned warehouses. Everything was quiet and the light from a street lamp was flickering.

He took a step forward only to stop when he felt the tip of a sword pointing at his throat.

"Who are you?" The voice from behind him asked. That person had their hand circled around Ichigo's arm while holding the sword upward with its tip pointing at him. The teen's mind immediately reeled. He might be a little vulnerable right now because he was shaken by the death of his beloved chichi but for him to not feel anything until there was a sword pointed at his throat was kind of pathetic. He initially thought that the Gotei 13 had tailed him, but he thought again when the voice seemed unsure as to who he was.

"Ichigo Kurosaki." He answered, though he didn't move anymore, not wanting to provoke the person in any way.

A little blonde girl – different from the person behind him pointing a sword at his throat – appeared in front of him. She had a scowl that could rival against his. "We don't care about your name. We mean, who're you? Or rather, what are you?"

"Come on now, Hiyori. Don't be so rude." The guy, as what Ichigo surmised because of his deep guttural voice, dropped his sword and walked in front of Ichigo as well. The orange-haired teen saw that the guy was also blonde, though with a different shade than the girl Hiyori.

"We all know this one is a Shinigami. The question will be, what are you doing here in our turf?" A guy wearing the most extravagant scowl, if ever there was something like that, appeared from the shadows. He had white hair and muscular body. His eyes, naturally dark in color, had darkened even more with hostility.

Ichigo didn't know how to answer that though. What was he doing here anyway? Aside from the fact that he had just escaped from possible execution, he didn't know what he should do. Instead, he voiced an observation of his own. "I can see that you're not normal humans either." No, that was an understatement. He knew that the people in front of him were souls just like him. And that sword which the blonde guy held was clearly a zanpakutou. "Are you Shinigamis too?" He immediately settled on a defensive stance, taking Zangetsu from behind him and holding the sword out in front of him with two strong, steady hands.

The blonde guy grinned. "We are, and yet, we're not." Ichigo's brows creased at that, though he didn't voice out anything.

"It seems the boy doesn't trust Shinigami that much even though he just came from Soul Society wearing a Shinigami uniform." A tall female with long braided hair in high school uniform appeared from behind the scowling guy with white hair. Ichigo was cursing inwardly now. How many of them were there? Hell, he couldn't even feel any presence!

"He's panicking." Hiyori mused aloud, specifically talking to the blonde guy, before he turned to Ichigo again. "Oy, boy, judging from your reiatsu, we can say that you're just like us, though also a little bit different."

"I'm not panicking." Ichigo gripped Zangetsu harder. "And if you're here to bring me back to Seireitei, you will have to do it over my dead body."

The blonde guy grinned again. "Perfect." And just when Ichigo thought the guy would attack, the blonde simply shunpo'd, no, that wasn't a shunpo, over to him. He was surprised at the swiftness of the speed that he wasn't even able to react until the guy put an arm over his shoulder. "I'm Shinji Hirako, the Leader of the Vizards. Welcome to the club, Ichigo."

"…V-Vizards?" He voiced, before he remembered a hundred year old story that Juushirou told him. Juushirou… "You mean the old Shinigamis who were turned to a Hollow?"

"Right. And wrong." Shinji still had his arms over his shoulder as they all walked towards one of the abandoned warehouses. Ichigo immediately felt that they entered some kind of barrier and he tensed. "Relax. If you're one of us, then we won't hurt you, at least for now."

"So, you picked up a lost kitten from the street?" A male's voice said from inside the building.

Ichigo looked up and saw that the guy, one with long curly blonde locks that was ponytailed behind, was on the second floor. No, he didn't have any laser eyes that could see through the ceiling. It's just that there was no ceiling to begin with. Or rather, there was a huge hole in the middle of the building, making anyone see from the first floor to the third one.

"This is Ichigo Kurosaki, also a Vizard." Shinji finally let go of his arm and Ichigo saw the eight Vizards assembled in front of him, clearly scrutinizing him.

"How do you know that he's not an enemy sent by Aizen? Or any other Shinigami in Gotei 13 for that matter?" Another male voiced. He had brown afro style hair but with five pointy tips. "He just opened a Senkai Gate, right? That means he was given permission to go here."

"I just escaped from Seireitei. I got help from some people and they were the ones who readied the Senkai Gate for me." Ichigo said. If these people were really the Vizards, then there's no way they could drag Ichigo back to Soul Society because if they did, then they too would be caught.

"Why?" Hiyori sat on a nearby couch and put her chin over his palm. "Why would you want to escape from there? Or rather, what are you escaping from?"

Ichigo looked at them for a while, inwardly deciding whether it's worth it telling them the truth, before he answered in a straight voice. "I was accused of killing two Taichous, though it was merely a coincident that I was there at the time, or that my reiatsu enveloped the entire area."

Shinji's eyes narrowed. "Taichou? Who?" All of the other Vizards' curiosity was also piqued by that question and they all waited for the teen to answer.

"Sousuke Aizen… and Chichi," Ichigo voiced quietly. "I mean, Juushirou Ukitake."

He saw them looked at one another before they looked at Ichigo again. Shinji was the first one to talk. "Condolence to Ukitake-taichou's death… but are you sure Aizen is already dead?"

Ichigo looked at him with furrowed eyebrows. "No, I haven't seen his corpse. But it was reported and my reiatsu, it seems, was all over his body. What do you mean?"

Shinji merely shook his head, clearly implying that it was impossible. "Anyway, Ichigo. You better hide here for a while. If what you say is true, then Gotei 13 will be starting to search for you in the living world now."

He relaxed, not realizing his stance was so stiff, before he bowed in gratitude. "Thank you."

"Shinji!" Hiyori yelled. "You can't just adopt any stray cat here! We don't even know if he's saying the truth! What if he really is a criminal?"

"Hiyori, I'm sure he's telling the truth." Shinji said as he looked at Ichigo again. He was sure of that because the agony and anguish mixed with hatred and deep fury in the boy's reiatsu was smoldering, at least to a normal human. It wouldn't be good to let him out of the barrier for now because the boy was clearly shaken and confused. He'd only endanger the humans in the town. "Anyway, Ichigo. This little monkey here is Hiyori Sarugaki. The huge old fart with pink hair is Hachigen Ushoda. The scowling guy on your left is Kensei Muguruma. Lisa Yadoumaru is the perverted girl on your right." Shinji's introduction received some insults and groans.

Hiyori wore a red sweat pants and red jacket on top a white shirt. Hachigen wore a green suit with white sleeves underneath and an orange tie. Kensei had a sleeveless black shirt, khaki pants and boots. He also wore orange fingerless gloves.

"I'm Rojurou Otoribashi." The blonde with long curly hair smiled. "Just call me Rose." He obviously didn't want Shinji to have the advantage of introducing him. He's the only one wearing a formal suit aside from Hachigen. His suit was black on top of white long sleeves with ruffles along the button holes.

"Rabu Aikawa." The afro-haired man grinned. His sunglasses shone in the dimness of the moon. "Just call me Love." Ichigo's eyebrow twitched at that. He tried to remember the guy's surname instead. The guy wore blue sweat pants and jacket.

A petite androgynous girl with yellow-green hair bounced in front of him, making him take a step backward. "I'm Mashiro Kuna!" She chirped. She wore white one-piece skin-tight suit with orange designs. She also had an orange scarf on top. And without anyone telling him, he immediately knew that these people were a weird group.

Shinji made him sit together with them and have something to eat.

"So, can you tell us who you are? I mean, why you are in Seireitei in the first place, or something like that." Hiyori voiced over a mouthful of bread.

Ichigo looked at her, and them, for a while before he decided to answer. He told them about being in Rukongai when he died, and how he was adopted by Juushirou, though without the breaking and the agony of losing his baa-chan, Kaien, and just this night, his chichi too. The Vizards listened as the boy told of his story. The teen was obviously trying but failing to hide the anguish and the pain of losing Kaien and Juushirou. He told them of Aizen, too, though not in detail like he did with Kenpachi.

Afterwards, Shinji decided to tell him what truly happened a hundred year ago in payment for his story. Ichigo was shocked, to say the least, when he learned that it was Aizen who experimented on them, and that Urahara and Tessai were framed for the crime. They said that Aizen might even be the one responsible for Hollows' appearances in Rukongai in the last few years. It seemed Aizen was seeking the power of both Shinigami and Hollows and had experimented on many Shinigamis just to have it.

They also told him that they weren't convinced Aizen was really dead. There was no way a person of his strength and power would succumb to anyone so easily without Shinigamis tracing a reiatsu other than Ichigo's. Ichigo didn't know if he would feel insulted or not that they already believed he was saying the truth, because it was either they felt he was not the type to truly do something like that, or they just felt that he just wasn't that strong to be able to kill Aizen.

And judging from the pattern of how Urahara was framed for a crime he didn't commit, they all assumed that Ichigo was also framed by Aizen for the crime of killing two Taichous.

"Ichigo, the fact that Aizen knew you're a Vizard won't make him confront you, you know, since he's the one who has been experimenting about Vizards for a century now. He's a very cautious man who will not deal with things like that personally, or at least not without having a plan that can ensure his success." Shinji explained. "And if Aizen's corpse was really the one who died back there, then I think that you were used as a part of someone else's bigger plan. And that makes things more dangerous, because there aren't many people who can outwit that bastard Aizen."

"So, what're you going to do now, Berry-tan?" Mashiro asked, earning a glare-turned-grimace from Ichigo for the nickname.

"I want to get stronger and clear my name, and avenge Chichi as well. And… I want to rescue Rukia from execution." He answered, eyebrows furrowed in deep concentration as he recited what he wanted to do from now on. "Zangetsu said I'm close to achieving Bankai… but I still don't know how to do it."

"Everyone, do you want a younger brother to take care of? One who will definitely be a pain in the ass?" Shinji asked as he eyed his companions. Ichigo didn't understand his words at first, but when he did, his scowl returned. He watched as they first looked at him before they nodded.

"If it's connected to Aizen, we're willing to help." Rojurou said and Rabu nodded beside him.

"I think that he will be big, big pain in the ass though." Hiyori said before she nodded.

"Let's get started then." Shinji grinned and his eyes screamed sadism. Ichigo had to gulp to hold himself from running away from the man.

After that, all of them rested for the night. From Ichigo's sixteen years in Soul Society, he managed to at least remember some important things from when he was still alive. And one of those things was his mother's name. Now that he was together with the Vizards, he knew he already had the chance to ask them about her – basing from the fact that Juushirou told him that there was someone named Masaki in the Vizards. He needed to know more about himself and also, due to curiosity, about his past.

The next morning, Shinji showed him a white mannequin-like doll. "This is a materialization doll, Ichigo. This will help you achieve your bankai in three days. And after that, we'll go to the real problem." And after that, Ichigo really thought he'd never see the light of the sun again.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

"And who're you?" A man with striped hat and green haori tipped his head to one side, looking at him from head to toe.

"This is Ichigo Kurosaki, Urahara." Shinji grinned from behind Ichigo. "We want to ask for help, or rather, request."

Ichigo eyed the man for a while. So this was the famous 12th Division Captain who was framed by Aizen. He had heard of Urahara's many achievements in Soul Society back during the man's Taichou days. But all of those were buried and erased in the face of his crimes. That's the kind of rule Seireitei had. Even the Vizards were thrown away like rags once Central 46 thought of them as useless. No wonder the Vizards hated the Shinigamis so much… No wonder they all swore to get revenge against the Shinigamis who abandoned them when they were in need.

Ichigo, even now, could still feel his heart ache from Shinji's stories. The Vizards had comrades and friends in Soul Society too. But all of those people abandoned them just to preserve their honor and pride. No one even bothered to look for them, or to check if they survived in a world so different from their own.

It had been sixteen days since he came to Karakura, sixteen days of sleeping with the Vizards and training with them, sixteen days of aching body and mind, and also heart, sixteen days of preventing himself form running away from Shinji's sadistic tendencies, and sixteen days of nothing but torture. And yet, he never felt alone in those sixteen days that he stayed with Shinji and the others, not even for a second. His instincts told him that he was just like them, and that he belonged with them. And somehow, that helped him deal with the pain of losing Juushirou. And he was sure that Seireitei was searching for him now, not leaving anything unturned. Shinji warned him not to show himself to everyone first, and that's where Urahara comes in.

The two of them had been ushered by the older blonde in the little shop's living room and was served tea by a little girl by the name of Ururu. Shinji drank his cup in one go while Ichigo took his time sipping it. Urahara was looking at him curiously and he couldn't help but feel uncomfortable under the man's gaze. He looked up and glared at the man, though he knew he was being impolite, especially for someone asking for help.

Suddenly, Urahara snapped his fan shut and spoke. "Kurosaki-kun, do you know who your biological father is?" Ichigo was taken aback at that question. He didn't think Urahara would ask something like that.

He stared at Urahara for a while, thinking of the answer. After some minutes of silence, he finally talked. "…Goat-face, I think. I… don't remember his real name."

Urahara smiled, eyes gleaming under the hat. "Isshin Kurosaki." The name made Ichigo stiffen. The name was so familiar it made his breath hitch just at the sound of it.

"It's great and all for you to have a little memory of your life." Shinji spoke from beside the teen, sensing his tense aura. "But you know that's not normal, right?"

"Maybe it's because of the fact that Ichigo wasn't born human. He was half Shinigami and half Hollow, his father once the taichou of the 10th Squad and his mother was his father's fukutaichou at the time, though he lived his life as human with a dormant power that only awakened when he was already in Soul Society."

By now, Shinji had already told him that a person named Masaki was indeed one of them, also a Vizard that Aizen had experimented on, thrown together a century ago into the living world. She was a very beautiful woman that Shinji liked to flirt with, though she had always kindly refused his advances. …Because by that time, she already loved her taichou.

Some seventy years ago, Masaki suddenly left them with the word that she wanted to live as a human, together with the man she loved. It was then that they learned the 10th Squad Taichou had been looking for her for over seventy years now, traveling in the living world when he had the time. And after that, the two met and finally had some sappy moments that Shinji didn't care to elaborate. And thus, the change in her mind. The 10th Squad Taichou who was about to be transferred as a Royal Guard left his title as a taichou and lived in a gigai, thus sealing both of their powers. But it didn't matter. The two had been happy since then. At least until the tragedy that ended her life sixteen years ago happened.

Shinji knowing something about his parents, Ichigo could understand. The guy had been his mother's comrade in exile after all. But this man, he couldn't. His eyes narrowed. "Why do you know me? And why do you know my parents?" Urahara blinked, but before he could answer, someone already did.

"Because Urahara is my friend, Ichigo." A voice so foreign and yet so nostalgic echoed throughout the whole room and they all turned toward the new-comer.

Urahara beamed. "I thought you'd never come." Shinji glared at him and he added, "I knew there was something familiar with Ichigo when I first saw him, and I immediately called Isshin to come here and take a look."

Isshin sighed. "I would've strangled you to death if it was a false alarm." His eyes softened when they settled on Ichigo's. "But even from the gate I already knew that the person inside this room is my son."

Ichigo's eyes widened when he gazed at his father. His father, whom he only remembered as the man who cried in anguish and sorrow as he tried to bring his dying son back to life. The person he didn't even know the name of, at least until Urahara said it. For this person to be here… Several emotions immediately gripped his heart as he gazed at the man whom he once called father –happiness, nervousness, and, mainly, longing. "G-Goat-face..?"

Isshin's eyes watered and he pouted before he began wailing over a picture that he pulled out of his pocket. "MASAKIIII! EVEN IN DEATH, ICHIGO IS BEING MEAAAAANNNNN TO MEEEEEEE! HE DOESN'T EVEN REMEMBER MY NAMEEEE!"

"Shut up, Goat-face!" Ichigo exclaimed in his embarrassment, but it only made Isshin wail louder. He chose to ignore his father then and turn to Urahara. "I want to go back to Soul Society and clear my name, and also rescue a friend of mine."

"Karin is there too right now, you know." Isshin immediately went back to his serious demeanor. All sort of longing aside, Ichigo shuddered at the thought that this deranged man was really his biological father.

"Karin, who's that?" He asked, arching an eyebrow. Urahara and Isshin glanced at one another before Isshin broke out into a wail again.


"So you mean she's dead too?" Ichigo couldn't help but feel loneliness even though he almost had no memory of his younger sisters.

"No, idiot." Urahara said before both Isshin and Urahara took turns in telling Ichigo of the incidents in the past few months. How Rukia and Karin met, how Rukia gave Karin her powers and how they fought off Hollows together, how their friendship grew over those months, and how over half a month ago, Karin was almost killed for trying to fight the ones who were sent to capture Rukia.

"Byakuya and Renji." Ichigo voiced. He suddenly felt himself torn. He didn't care about Byakuya but he cared about Renji. And he knew how the man felt about Rukia's power being transferred to a human. But Karin was his sister, and even though he couldn't remember her, he could still feel some affection for her.

"Karin might be five years younger than you, but she's basically twenty years old now so she appears older. She appears at least two years older than you now. And I'm sure that you will still appear as someone in your early twenties even by the time she's already too old to even walk." Isshin voiced. "Aging in Soul Society is much, much slower than in the real world. People age fast here, except of course if you're already a soul like Urahara and the Vizards, and me. Our aging is the same as if we're still in Soul Society." Ichigo nodded at the brief explanation, wondering how he would face his sister if he ever saw her – looking older than her brother who was supposed to be five years older than her.




Ren-sama's Note:

I'd love to hear from you. Please? And please don't kill me for killing Juushirou, but just as Shinji said, maybe it's part of someone else's bigger plan? Again, thank you for your continuous support… because I really, really love hearing from you, guys. ˆoˆ